Global Policy Forum

Opinion Forum*

This opinion forum is no longer updated. Check out our blog for more recent comments.

Holocaust Denied – The Lying Silence of Those Who Know (January 8, 2009)

Journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger argues that the situation in Gaza is "the defining moment of our time." The Israeli government, with support from the US and the UK, is responsible for military attacks on the civilian population, enforced starvation, the denial of medicine and treatment and the destruction of infrastructure. Pilger criticizes journalists, writers, academics and politicians for their inaction and draws comparisons to the World War II, where many intellectuals "spoke up to ensure the lie of silence was broken."

Closing Remarks by Jens Martens, Civil Society Forum Doha (November 27, 2008)

In the closing remarks of the Civil Society Forum in Doha, Jens Martens of Global Policy Forum draws attention to the need for innovative and multilateral action to address the root causes of the global financial crisis. The UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters must be upgraded to an intergovernmental body of the UN and a major UN international conference must be arranged to review the global economic governance structures.

Looking Ahead: Mobilizing Domestic Financial Resources for Development (November 29, 2008)

Global Policy Forum's Jens Martens proposes a corporate tax on transnational corporations in order to increase the domestic revenues of the countris of the Global South. Further, governments must coordinate their national tax reforms and introduce laws on transfer pricing to reveal price manipulation by transnational companies.

Mumbai: Why? (November 30, 2008)

Rahul Rao argues that the November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks are strikingly different from other terrorist events in India in recent years – in which retaliation for attacks on India's muslims were the main motive. In this case, the targets (such as major hotels) were symbolically associated with foreigners and seem to reflect anger at India's recent foreign policy shift. From historic non-alignment, the government has moved forge a strategic alliance with the United States, including close military cooperation. This change is bound to stir anger and resentment, which can take a jihadi form.

Naissance of the Court: The ICC at Ten (July 24, 2008)

Author Margaret Burnham looks at the debate about the International Criminal Court's (ICC) cases against Sudan's President Omar al Bashir and the Democratic Republic of Congo's militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. The cases highlight the tension between the court's judicial responsibilities and the larger process of peacemaking. Burnham argues that "the ICC has yet to work out its role as the preeminent institution in international criminal justice," and that the court is vulnerable because it often depends on the cooperation of hostile domestic actors. As an institution with broad jurisdiction over international war crimes, the ICC must meet fair trial standards yet effectively arbitrate violent conflicts. (Global Policy Forum)

Causes and Strategies on World Hunger: Green Revolution versus Sustainable Agriculture (May 2008)

Global Policy Forum's Katarina Wahlberg criticizes the World Bank's proposal to create a Green Revolution in Africa. By focusing on boosting agricultural production through scientific development of more productive crops, the Bank disregards the fact that the Earth's biological systems cannot be exploited forever. Also, the supporters of the new Green Revolution fail to address the major causes of the global food crisis, including biofuel production and unsustainable global consumption of meat. The author calls for a shift from industrial agriculture of export crops to sustainable agriculture for local consumption. (World Economy & Development in Brief)

The "Surge" of Iraqi Prisoners (May 7, 2008)

Amid all the talk about the US military "surge" in Iraq, little has been said about the accompanying "surge" of Iraqi prisoners, whose numbers rose to nearly 51,000 at the end of 2007. Global Policy Forum's Ciara Gilmartin states that "US forces hold nearly all detainees indefinitely without charge, an arrest warrant or the opportunity to defend themselves." Human rights monitors, including the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), are denied access to detention centers in Iraq by US officials. This lack of oversight not only increases the likelihood of detainee abuse, but also violates international human rights law. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

The Dilemma of G8 Protest (June 6, 2007)

Although the mobilization of activists at the 2007 Heiligendamm G8 summit gave "unprecedented" media exposure to the social justice movement, it had the unfortunate side effect of lending attention and legitimacy to the group of eight major industrial nations. Jens Martens of Global Policy Forum argues that, in making such broad demands as "save the climate" and "solve the problems of Africa," civil society groups reinforce the idea of G8 members as "omnipotent saviors of the universe." Martens proposes the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as a more equitable and democratic policy making body. But the G8 leaders, who are a minority among ECOSOC's 54 members, have prevented the council from gaining the necessary authority.

Run, Rummy, Run (December 8, 2006)

In November 2006, human rights lawyers led by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a legal complaint against former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking officials implicated in the Abu-Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prison abuse scandals. CCR Vice President Peter Weiss explains the lawsuit against Rumsfeld and his cohorts based on the concept of universal jurisdiction.

What the World Bank and IDB Owe Haiti (July 24, 2006)

Although it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been left out of the World Bank's debt relief initiative. But soon the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank may cancel some of Haiti's debt. Author Dan Beeton examines critically the history of these bank's activities in the country. He argues that debt relief should not be subject to restrictive bank conditions and instead the needs of Haiti's people should come first.

ExxonMobil in Aceh (April 17, 2006)

Michael Renner writes about Exxon's vast gas operation in Indonesia's rebellious Aceh province. Exxon's pollution, displacement of populations and complicity with military and police repression fueled conflict for many years. In the wake of the tsunami catastrophe, the central government has made important concessions to local citizen demands, including sharing of the gas revenues with the local government. But fear remains that Jakarta (and Exxon) will not honor their promises, especially when international observers depart.

The Limitations of Universal Jurisdiction (March 2006)

NYU law professor Paul Chevigny considers the pros and cons of universal jurisdiction – a legal construct that allows courts in any country to pursue high international crimes committed outside their territory by persons not their own citizens. The author identifies some weakness, especially the problem of frivolous cases and its opposite, overly-narrow jurisdiction. He concludes that universal jurisdiction, while not a legal panacea, provides an important advance in law and a warning to future violators.

Counting Some of the Votes in Haiti (February 14, 2006)

In this article, the Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Brian Concannon, describes how the Interim Government of Haiti (IGH) engaged in a comprehensive program to suppress supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's ally Rene Preval, comprised mainly of Haiti's urban and rural poor. From voter registration through election day, the IGH – with the help of the US, France and Canada – tried to steal the elections: they prevented prominent politicians from participating by jailing them illegally; discouraged poor voters from registering and voting by putting too few registration centers and voting offices in poor neighborhoods; and finally manipulated the votes by discarding Preval votes or declaring them "null."

Blenheim and Bangalore (July 5, 2005)

The Duke of Marlborough, a British aristocrat, receives over half a million pounds sterling in agricultural subsidies for his Blenheim estate near Oxford. At the same time, desperate Indian peasants, overwhelmed by subsidized imports and free-market reforms, commit suicide in large numbers. Rahul Rao, an Oxford-based scholar, connects Blenheim with his home city of Bangalore in India, showing a global web of institutions, policies and responsibilities that simultaneously creates wealth and destitution.

The Tragedy of Darfur (June 15, 2004)

Government-backed militias have killed tens of thousands of villagers in Western Sudan's Darfur province and hundreds of thousands of displaced people face death through disease and starvation. The "international community" has not acted forcefully enough and the UN Security Council has done little. Ten years after the Rwanda genocide, is another major tragedy unfolding?

US Complicity in Pushing Aside Aristide (March 2, 2004)

Faced with an armed rebellion led by thugs tied to former dictators, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti left office and departed the country on February 29, 2004. Washington appears to have supported the coup that deposed the democratically-elected president. It continues a long and sorry tradition of violence and intervention that includes 33 coups and a long period of US occupation, leaving Haiti one of the world's poorest lands.

Will Blair Walk the Walk? (January 27, 2004)

On January 28, 2004, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair faces the most dangerous day of his political life as Lord Hutton issues his long-awaited report on the David Kelly case. The report will further expose the falsification and spin-doctoring of Downing Street in the run-up to the Iraq War. Tony Blair, an advocate of morality and responsibility in government, should take his own words seriously and tender his resignation as Prime Minister.

Guantanamo & Boeremag (January 17, 2004)

The United States government metes out a harsh "justice" to those it suspects of terrorism, recalling the actions of apartheid South Africa. Meanwhile, post-apartheid South Africa demonstrates a new democratic justice in a trial of the Boeremag, members of a white supremacist group who benefit from legal protections in spite of bombings and many other violent acts.

Operation Renounce War Booty (December 23, 2003)

Washington recently announced that only firms from coalition countries could bid on reconstruction contracts for Iraq. Michael Renner argues that European governments opposed to the war should renounce such war profiteering and pursue rights-based policies in Iraq and beyond. Only strong public pressure, though, can produce such an uncharacteristic result.

From the Sunni Triangle to the Bermuda Triangle (November 15, 2003)

While the media likes to chatter about the "Sunni triangle" in Iraq, author Michael Renner calls attention to the Iraqi "Bermuda triangle" where unpleasant facts mysteriously vanish. Missing weapons of mass destruction, for example, and the gap between Washington's claims to democracy and its long-standing support for authoritarian and anti-democratic regimes throughout the oil-rich Middle East.

Nuclear Weapons and Preventive War (November 2, 2003)

Looking closely at the arguments for war in Iraq and at the US doctrine of preventive war, Peter Weiss concludes that nuclear weapons provide an overwhelmingly fearful and imminent threat that rallies public support for aggressive military action. Unless we eliminate nuclear weapons, preventive war doctrine will proliferate, he argues, and with 35-40 nations capable of producing these weapons, further conflicts are likely.

The UN's Tragic Exit from Iraq (October 13, 2003)

The UN has a lot to offer Iraq through its expertise in peacemaking, fostering democratic transitions and sustainable economic development, argues Craig Murphy. Washington's insistence that it run the show, through Pentagon pro-consuls and corporate cronies, is a tragedy for the Iraqi people.

Aid or Trade? (October 3, 2003)

With the collapse of the Cancun trade agreement, free trade in agriculture will not arrive anytime soon, nor will it end the woes of the global South. In this piece, Michael Renner argues that rich countries should increase their long-promised development aid, while also dismantling agricultural tariffs and subsidies. Cancun was not a calamity, but alternatives are urgently needed.

A Fork in the Road (September 25, 2003)

In this inaugural piece for GPF's Opinion Forum, Katie Burman contrasts the speeches of Secretary General Kofi Annan and US President George Bush to the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2003. While Annan provides a vision of cooperation for world peace, Bush offers self-congratulation, bombast and prevarication.


*The articles published in this Opinion Forum represent the views of their authors and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of Global Policy Forum.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.